I decided to write a little about this topic after having attended a workshop with Sarah Fisher at the IMDT. I found it fascinating how we could have such a profound effect with touch alone and help our dogs relax whilst building our bond with them. It then became an invaluable tool, as after becoming familiar with the observational techniques, I was able to quickly spot a lump on my dog Eddie. This turned out to be benign but could have had further complications had we not been able to spot this early on.
So what is T TTouch?
Tellington TTouch was developed by Linda Tellington-Jones over 32 years ago and was originally designed as a way of helping with the training and care of horses and other animals. It is now recognised worldwide and become a forward thinking approach to handling, training and rehabilitating all animal species.
The Tellington TTouch has a profound and potent effect on the nervous system and has a powerful influence on responses and mood. It helps animals to learn and helps them remain focused and relaxed when over excited or stressed. It is also a fantastic way to build the bond between you and your dog. Tellington TTouch incorporates a series of gentle circular TTouches, lifts and slides.
‘Observations are an important part of the TTouch work. Practitioners note the animal’s responses to stimuli, the posture, balance, movement and muscle development, heart rate and respiration, the texture and appearance of the coat and so on. They feel for temperature changes, coarse or dry hair, tension in the tail, ears, legs and the mobility of the skin. They also pay close attention to the animal’s responses to contact on the body and his ability to negotiate the ground work exercises(a series of exercices and adapt the sessions accordingly. The focus is always on what the animal can achieve rather than what he can’t achieve and the aim is to work below the threshold at which the animal has to react, particularly when handling animals that are nervous and/or defensive.’
Here is a simple introduction of how you can begin using TTouch with your dog.
- Begin with your dog lying or sitting comfortably. Start by making small clockwise circular motions at the base of the ear and around the ear. You can also stroke the ear gently from the base to the tip in soft, fluid movements alternating hands as you go.
- Next move to the jaw. Dogs tend to carry a lot of tension in this area. Massage by making small circular movements around the jaw and even on the gums themselves.
- Next work along the dog’s body by doing long gentle pulls, or circular touches, all along the dog’s back and to the top of the tail.
- Then gently pull the base of the tail from side to side and up and down. If the dog’s tail is docked then work as if the tail was still present.
This is just a snapshot into the fascinating world of Tellington TTouch. I would highly recommend taking a look at Sarah Fisher’s book ‘Unlock Your Dog’s Potential: How to achieve a calm and happy canine’ or why not embark on a T TTouch workshop with the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT)?
Happy Training K9 Playtimers!